extraneous/irrelevant

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GandalfMB

Senior Member
Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
Hello everybody,
the reason I am posting this thread is that these two words look similar to me. Are they not? According to the definitions provided by MacMillan Dictionary "extraneous = not relating to the subject or a situation you are dealing with", and "irrelevant = not relevant to what you are discussing or doing". Everything looks perfectly clear but "or what you are doing" is just too general and similar to "what you are dealing with ".
- All these factors are extraneous to our objectives. - I wouldn't use "irrelevant" here, but the definition is rather confusing.
- The original date of the translation is irrelevant to its historical value. - Can we use "extraneous here"?

Thank you in advance. I realize that my question is bizarre and difficult to answer. They are probably different and I am wrong for having said that.

Thank you
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I think there is some overlap, for sure.

    When deciding which one to use I would probably be guided by the structure of each word:

    EXTRAneous -- extra, more than we need.

    irRELEVANT -- not relevant to our context.

    For your second example:
    The original date of the translation is irrelevant to its historical value. You are right to use irrelevant here, extraneous would not work.

    I cannot advise you on your first example because I do not really understand the context for that sentence.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/extraneous

    This looks like a good link for discussion of extraneous.
    Hello, suzi,
    thank you for the link. I came across the following sentence "an issue extraneous to the debate". I don't know why, but I think that both "extraneous" and "irrelevant" would work here. I assume there is a certain overlap. Can we say that both words have the same meaning in this sentence?
    Thank you, Suzi
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Yes, I think so. The first thing I said to you (above) was that there is some overlap!

    I notice that in some dictionaries the first word given to define extraneous IS the word irrelevant.
     
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